Most common health problems in Akitas, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Akita

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Akita, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Akita already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Akita dog breed

Akita Inu Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Akita health problems

Almost half of all Akitas die from cancer or an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat. Of all breeds, the Akita is the second most likely to experience bloat, which can kill a dog within hours.

Bad hip joints cause lameness and pain. Akitas are also prone to rupturing the ligaments in their hind legs. Both hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture can require expensive surgery.

Akitas can be born with a defective immune system, which attacks their own skin (lupus), their digestive system (colitis), their thyroid (thyroiditis), or their spinal cord (degenerative myelopathy, which progresses to paralysis). A severe form of autoimmune arthritis can strike Akitas under a year old.

A long list of hereditary eye diseases can cause blindness.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Akita have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, thyroid disease, and hip and elbow dysplasia, your Akita has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Akita Inu, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Akita Inu puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Akita Inu puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Akita lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Akita
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Akita Inu. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Akita
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Akita Inu. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Akita Inu puppy really need? Does your adult Akita need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your Akita Inu. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Akita Inu. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Akita Inu health problems

According to an Akita Club health survey, the two leading causes of death are:

  1. Cancer. Especially lymphosarcoma and osteosarcoma.
  2. Bloat. The Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine reports that the Akita Inu is the SECOND most likely breed to develop this emergency gastrointestinal syndrome (second only to the Great Dane).

Cancer and bloat kill 42% of all Akitas.

Orthopedic health problems were ultimately responsible for another 16% of Akita Inu deaths in the club survey. Most common is hip dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America examined the hip x-rays of over 17,000 Akitas and found 13% to be bad. Other orthopedic diseases are elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, luxating patella, osteochondritis, and a rare disease called chondrodysplasia.

Autoimmune diseases, where an Akita Inu's defective immune system "turns" on its own body and damages it, killed another 7% of Akitas in the club survey.

  • When the defective immune system targets the skin, the result can be pemphigus, lupus, or vitiligo. Or sebaceous adenitis, a nasty disease that occurs more often in Akitas than in any other breed except Standard Poodles. Or uveo-dermatological syndrome (aka Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome). VKH attacks the skin and the eyes and it is incurable. Typically appearing around 18 months old, the first symptom is usually a bloodshot inflammation of the eyes. The pupils may appear tiny. Even with steroids and immune suppressant drugs, vision usually can't be preserved for very long.
  • In autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the defective immune system destroys red blood cells.
  • Hypothyroidism is a common autoimmune problem in Akita Inus. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of Akitas have low thyroid levels. This can be treated with thyroid supplementation, but the biggest concern with hypothyroidism in Akitas is that it has been linked to sudden aggressive behavior in this breed.
  • Other autoimmune diseases reported in the Akita Inu are myasthenia gravis, colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) and degenerative spinal myelopathy.
  • Finally, a severe form of autoimmune arthritis called juvenile onset polyarthritis can strike Akitas under a year old.

Allergies cause itchy skin in Akita Inus and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).

Eye diseases include entropion, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, cataracts (often combined with abnormally small eyes), glaucoma, and cherry eye.

Endocrine system diseases in Akitas include Addison's disease, Cushing's disease, and diabetes.

Other health issues occurring in Akitas include epilepsy and blood-clotting diseases (specifically, von Willebrand's disease and thrombocytopenia).


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.